ENB police urged to use restorative justice

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The National, Tuesday 07th Febuary 2012

A MAGISTRATE has urged police to use the restorative justice approach in communities and increase mediation between parties – before going to court
Senior provincial magistrate Regget Marum highlighted this yesterday when officiating at the dedication service to mark the opening of the legal year at Gunanba Catholic church in East New Britain.
He encouraged police officers to, instead of sticking to the formal system of arresting and bringing offenders to court, use the informal way of promoting mediation between the parties.
Marum said promoting restorative justice in the communities would improve communal relations.
“Now everybody wants to run to court and our communal system is slowly breaking down,” he said.
“Attending court is not always easy for some to get justice – the process could take a long time, prove too costly or just not an option for some who are scared to go through it all.
“Those seeking help in civil matters must be encouraged to attend the alternative dispute resolution where two parties can talk at the village level and sort out their differences first before approaching the court.”
“Let us do things the Melanesian way.”
Marum pointed that there could be inconsistencies in sentences imposed by the courts on similar offences under similar circumstances, under the power
of discretion.
“The court needs to place some sentencing strategies in minimising our sentencing disparity. If not then the sentencing debts will continue and the society, mostly the convicted and their relatives will ask why this is happening.”
This occurs mostly in district courts where the bulk of the civil and criminal cases are heard.
He urged Correctional Services and police officers to work hard and listen to their leaders.
“Discipline means obeying the law, following orders from your commander and restraining from corrupt activities and protecting lives and properties,” he said.
“The moment you become undisciplined, you open up division in the force.”